A big huge thank you to all the 13 of you who filled out the survey! Someone left a very intriguing message when I asked what else you, dear readers, would like to read about in this here blog. “Go meatier” they urged. “Travel, ethics, politics…”
And I thought, typically, “Well I don’t go anywhere much, and my ethics are a bit shaky, and I’m not going to bang on about Brexit..”
Events, however, have conspired against me. I haven’t been much of a fan of UK politics, because I’ve been feeling so sad and disengaged ever since sitting in an Ibiza hotel room watching the Tories rustling up Theresa May as their brand shiny new Prime Minister on BBC News 24, while Labour were undergoing an embarrassingly extended leadership contest. In fact, I cancelled my membership of Labour months ago, after Corbyn was confirmed as leader. Labour, bless them, didn’t appear to notice until on Monday night, Labour sent me a slightly shirty sounding email telling me I had 24 hours to renew my membership, and I sent back an email basically saying “Sort Corbyn, mushes, and you’ll get my monies.”
On Tuesday morning, I was watching the scrolling news on the tv screens at work, and seriously took my glasses off and rubbed my eyes, thinking that I had misread the ticker tape. But no, there she was, Theresa May, pudding bowl of steely hair, creature of the night gimlet eyes, announcing a snap General Election.
Awww NOOOO! I thought. You see, I had been writing a blog post about how when you have shit going down in your real life, you can’t face shit going down in the big wide world too. I’ve been ignoring Brexit (as much as a dedicated R4 listener and Guardian reader can). I decided to stop caring about Comrade Corbyn and his Momentum chums. I had stuff happening closer to home! My work and home life was imploding! And yes I do actually really care very much about this country, and people in poverty, and food banks and benefits cuts, and schools and education and the NHS, and I wanted to stay in Europe but I understand why some people didn’t. I care about it all very very much. But there are times when actually you don’t have the energy to care enough about the big things, when you’ve got big personal things happening that are overwhelming and scary.
And there’s another factor. Like so many others, I am tired of politics in this decade. I remember my first maternity leave, crying watching Brown leave Downing Street, because my baby girl was going to grow up under a Conservative government. I’m tired of leadership contests and referendums and new Prime Ministers. How much money is this General Election going to waste? Are Labour ready to fight a decent opposition campaign? (The answer is no). Can the Lib Dems recover from being tainted by their coalition experience and the tuition fees broken promise? And will the people who didn’t vote in the last General Election, and genuinely I do know someone who said they’d never voted until the Referendum on Europe, turn out and make the difference, make their voices heard?
Part of me has no faith, no confidence in any of it. Part of me thinks “Another bloody ballot, I can’t take this,” and I want to go and put my head under my duvet until June 10th. Another part of me, the hopeful part, thinks that maybe this is an opportunity for those of us who don’t like what’s happening across our country, who don’t fancy another five years of Tory rule, to rise up, somehow, and change things.
I don’t know if that’s at all realistic. I know I don’t live in a world which represents the experience of most people in this country. I know that we all live in our own echo chambers. The people we love, work with, stay in touch with on social media – we hear our own thoughts and feelings reflected back at us. Hence the number of people, colleagues, friends, who already have said, with that hopeful spark in their voices “it’s got to backfire on her, right?!” Maybe it will. But will it in a big enough way?
I’ve lost friends before, posting on social media about politics. Luckily I honed my ‘disagreeing but staying friends’ skills at university, when I hung out with some delightful Young Conservatives. In declaring my allegiances, I feel the need to reiterate that these thoughts and feelings, they are my own, and I’m not asking any of you reading this to vote the same way I might vote, or hold the same opinions I hold.
However, I guess this is a bit of a rallying cry in general, to those of us whose hearts sank at the news on Tuesday. We have to care. We have to get beyond feeling bogged down and unable to muster the energy to respond in the way we know we need to. No one is looking at this election with passion or enthusiasm, but at the very least, we need to gather enough motivation to cast our votes and to make our voices heard and our votes count. And then we can all go back to thinking about the small things that really matter, like which box set to watch, and what to eat for dinner and what to wear to work. Because it’s those things that make life bearable, the small, mundane and beautiful, against the canvas of the huge and impossible.